Clive, IA – It was a stunning arrival Friday evening by Governor Sarah Palin to the cheers of an adoring crowd at the Machine Shed restaurant in Clive.  I happened to be in the most perfect position to view the Governor’s arrival.  I have no images to share with you, my phone having become a casualty of the thirteen hour drive to the event.   It wouldn’t have mattered.  At 7:53pm, a large SUV with tinted glass pulled up to the entrance at the Machine Shed.  Out leaped Sarah Palin onto the sidewalk.  I happened to be standing just feet away on the sidewalk, and also happened to be the first person to welcome her with an outstretched hand.  I have no pictures to offer you, and the media probably didn’t get any pictures until moments later as the barrage of flashes exploded like fireworks.  Still, consistent with any other appearance she makes, Governor Palin was surrounded by reporters and supporters alike, and I was suddenly relieved that I had mercifully avoided being at the center of that spectacle as she moved past me and toward the entrance.

Prior to her arrival, the media seemed to be covering all of the restaurants entrances and exits.  Some had gathered by the main entrance, but none really seemed prepared for the moment when she emerged from the SUV.  For a politician who so many pundits have declared irrelevant so many times, Palin’s raw star power and broad base of committed support seems to re-write the meaning of the term.  Inside the restaurant, the scene was one of well-mannered pandemonium, with chants of “Run Sarah, Run” reverberating to thunderous applause.  As always, Mrs. Palin deftly worked the crowd and thrilled many joyous supporters, as well as others who were there simply for a meal, at the restaurant sheer happenstance.

People from both coasts, and everywhere in between, had traveled to Iowa for this event. The Texas contingent was particularly large, arriving in a tour bus with a placard proclaiming Texas Is Palin Country.  Another group from Texas also arrived by van.  Altogether, hundreds upon hundreds of Palin supporters jammed into the Machine Shed.  One might have called it a mob in any other context, but as is common wherever Palin appears, she tends to draw a rather different crowd.  These were all salt-of-the-earth sorts who came to show their support for Sarah Palin, whether or not she ultimately appeared.  Apparently, Governor Palin adores her supporters too, because she seemed intent on fulfilling every request for autographs, and ever photo request.

Once the Palins made it to their seats, in the corner of the room reserved by the C4P and O4P organizers, Peter Singleton made some impromptu remarks to the resounding enthusiasm of the assembled, standing-room-only crowd.  Spontaneous chants of “Run Sarah, Run” filled the room as punctuation to his remarks.  He told the crowd of his belief that Governor Palin could win the nomination, and having done so, could also go on to win the general election.  While the enthusiasm of supporters isn’t necessarily an accurate measure of one’s electoral prospects, it’s likewise clear that few other candidates engender the sort of passion observed in the crowd at the Machine Shed on Friday night.

In the end, the Palins departed through a back door in the large room, Mrs. Palin herself not electing to make a speech to the crowd.  She smiled humbly as the crowd implored her to seek the presidency, but there’s little doubt that she understands the wishes of her supporters.

Saturday’s Tea Party rally at which Governor Palin will deliver the keynote address is expected to draw a large crowd at the balloon field in Indianola.  I’ll be there to cover it with camera, phone, laptop, and what few wits I’ll be able to muster.  Whatever happens, and whatever Palin may say at Saturday’s event, it’s almost certain to be memorable.

Note to my readers: I was fortunate enough to meet a relatively large number of people who approached me to tell me they appreciated my work in this blog.  I want to thank all of you, each and every one, for taking the time to say hello.  When I began publishing this blog six weeks ago, I had no idea it would blossom as it has.  To all of you, whether you were at the gathering on Friday evening at the Machine Shed, I thank you, for reading and supporting this blog.  I am truly humbled by your response.  If any of you are in town for the Tea Party event on Saturday in Indianola, please don’t hesitate to say hello!  I greatly appreciate your honest feedback.

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